The Populist Party. Farmers gave their support to the Populist Party, a new national party representing the “common man” (farmers, industrial workers, and miners) Women played a prominent role in the Populist Movements speakers and organizers
The Populist Party
Farmers gave their support to the Populist Party, a new national party representing the “common man” (farmers, industrial workers, and miners)
Women played a prominent role in the Populist Movements speakers and organizers
Convinced that rich industrialist and bankers had a stranglehold on the government
Like the Grangers before them, the Populists wanted the government to take a larger role (to end oppression, injustice and poverty)
1892: Held a National Convention in Omaha, Nebraska (to choose a Presidential Candidate)
Unlimited Coinage of Silver: to raise farm prices and make loan repayment easier
Direct Election of Senators: instead of by state legislatures
Term Limits for Presidents: 1 term
Secret Ballot: to protect voters from intimidation
Government Ownership: of railroads, telegraphs, and telephones
Immigration Restrictions: with quotas
Graduated Income Tax: to tax wealthy individuals at a higher rate
Shorter Work Day: of 8 hours
1892: In 1892, the Populist elected 5 Senators and received over a million votes for their Presidential Candidate. Soon afterwards, the economy collapsed in the Depression of 1893. Populists blamed the Depression on the scarcity of currency. They demanded the unlimited coinage of silver to raise prices.
1896: The Democratic Party nominated William Jennings Bryan for President after he delivered a speech at the convention (Cross of Gold Speech). It praised farmers and denounced bankers for crucifying mankind on a cross of gold. The populist party supported Bryan instead of running another candidate. Bryan’s sense of moral outrage, however, frightened many voters. He narrowly lost the election to Republican William McKinley, a pro-business candidate. The country divided regionally: Bryan won the South and West but McKinley won the Northeast and Midwest, and with it the election.
1900: Four years later, Bryan ran against McKinley again. McKinley won a second term. This virtually brought an end to the Populist Party. New Gold Discoveries, higher farm prices, and rural migration to the cities weakened national interest in a separate farmer’s party in later years.
( R) = Republican Party (D) = Democratic Party (P) = Populist Party
Election of 1892Election of 1896 Election of 1900
[#] = Electoral Votes Received
Legacy of Populism
The Populist Party appeared suddenly in the 1890s and disappeared just as fast, yet it left its mark on American History.
Third Parties often have an impact on the political process.
They provide an outlet for minorities to voice grievances and generate new ideas.
Populists were the typical third party movements in the U.S.
Many Populist proposals, such as graduate income tax and direct election of the Senators were later adopted by one of the larger political parties.
If a third party attracts significant numbers of voters, one of the major parties will often adopt its ideas.